Where To Buy Used Lapidary Equipment
Lapidary equipment is an expensive investment, and one of the better ways to get tools cheap is to find used ones. Fortunately, there are a ton of different places that you can look, both online and in-person, to find used gear for good-to-great prices.
The following are all good sources if you’re looking to lower the cost of entry into the field of working stones.
1. Facebook Groups
Facebook groups can be found for every niche, big and small. There are a lot of rockhounds out there and, consequently, a lot of rockhound groups. A quick search reveals multiple groups based just around selling used lapidary equipment!
Like any direct sales, you’ll need to watch for scams and the like. At least in my limited participation, I’ve found the groups are quick to out anyone who acts unethically, but the same may not be true everywhere as there are hundreds of groups for rockhounds and lapidary work.
It’s probably the easiest and most direct way for the majority of us to find used lapidary equipment and it’s a route I recommend you look down before going anywhere else.
The biggest problem is going to be shipping. Most equipment is pretty heavy and privately shipping something like a CabKing can get expensive.
Craigslist is the sketchy dude with an unnerving overcoat of the internet. But it’s also a great place to find deals, provided that you use common sense and some basic safety precautions.
Craigslist is best used for local sales, where you’ll actually be picking up the equipment yourself. That said, if you’re smooth enough about it and find someone willing you can still get equipment from outside of your local area.
When using Craigslist I prefer to use an aggregator like SearchTempest to target more than one area at a time.
Craigslist does have a reputation for being shady, and it’s well-earned. That said, I ran a resale business primarily off of Craigslist and have bought from dozens of people using it.
Always meet somewhere safe, most police departments have a designated area in their parking lot. If not… just use their parking lot anyways, the risk of an officer complaining is a small price to pay to know you’re covered if something happens.
Try to vet your sellers as much as possible. While Craigslist is an anonymous platform, you’ll find that most sellers are willing to cooperate and give you more information about themselves.
3. Rockhound Forums
The good old days of BBS boards are long gone, but message boards dedicated to hobbies remain on the internet despite the advance of social media. These are great places to find stones, equipment, and company for rockhounds.
For those used to the new internet, they can be a bit confusing to operate. That said, they’re often rewarding communities to become involved in, many of these message boards have been around for 20 years or more.
Specifically, however, you should look and see if they have an equipment sales sub-board. You can usually find great deals there, and unlike using Facebook or Craiglist you’re unlikely to run into nearly as much competition when buying. That usually means lower prices on your end.
4. Estate and Yard Sales
If you’re in an area where there are a lot of lapidary artists, both yard sales and estate sales can be awesome places to find yourself some great equipment for a good price. Rockhounding is a very common hobby, so plenty of people are looking to offload things they no longer need.
Estate sales are a favorite of mine. I’ve gotten great deals on everything from raw stone to high-end flex shafts just poking around, and I’ve seen at least two high-end cab machines for low prices.
Yard sales will sometimes have lapidary equipment and it’s worth a stop. And hey, if you have any other hobbies that require expensive tools you stand a good chance of finding them there as well.
These places are very hit or miss, unless you know in advance there’s lapidary equipment involved you may not find anything at all.
Or you may end up with a five gallon bucket of fire agate rough for $50.
Trust me, the gamble is worth a few hours out of your Saturday morning.
5. Private Websites
I’ve found a few private websites that offer used lapidary equipment for sale, most of them selling the machines as refurbished. I recommend doing your homework anytime you use an online retailer, if there have been problems in the past then someone has complained about it.
Just Googling the site name and “reviews” or “reputation” is enough to give you a good picture most of the time.
With the popularity of social media, these kinds of websites are a bit rare. Most people just sell their used equipment via Facebook or another platform rather than going through the trouble of setting up a website.
You’ll also notice that your selection is quite limited if you go down this route. That said, I did find a trim saw for a good price doing a quick search and there’s more equipment out there, but private retail websites aren’t a strong point of the lapidary industry.
eBay is another platform that’s seen better days, but you can actually find some great deals here. The search engine lets you get a no-hassle look at the products and they can be quite cheap compared to other places.
You’ll want to check out the seller’s feedback. Not the feedback rating, but instead dig into the actual meat of the feedback. You can sometimes find issues even though the person has excellent feedback.
That said, eBay is the most friendly way to find things for someone who likes rocks more than people. You don’t have to chat with anyone and all of the listings are laid out in a logical way.
7. Lapidary Clubs
The exact opposite from buying off of eBay is just making friends at the local rock and mineral club and asking around. If you’re not a member of a local club… you should be. At the very least you’ll often get access to some tools until you get your own.
But many members have their own tools, and may sell some of them for a good price. Working closely together with these individuals can get you a better price than you’d get online… period.
In addition, there’s a good crossover between people who like to cut stones and those who build their own machines. Despite the high price, most lapidary equipment is simple at heart and there’s a large segment of hobbyists who just say “screw it” and build their own machines from the ground up.
I emphasize it often, but being a member of the local lapidary or rock and gem club is a must for anyone serious about the hobby.